iOS 14 and the deprecation of the IDFA: Answers to your questions

By Yonatan Komornik July 2, 2020
No IDFA? No problem. Continue to drive growth with Singular’s best-in-market SKAdNetwork solution. Click here to learn more!

Mobile marketing as we know it on iOS is changing. In September when Apple launches iOS 14, the Identifier for Advertisers will be opt-in, and the opt-in dialog will have some very scary language about tracking across the internet.

We expect 0-20% of people will actually opt in.

It’s possible that we’re being optimistic.

This is a very big deal. Eric Seufert calls it apocalyptic, “book of Revelation stuff.” And that means that mobile marketers have a lot of questions. There’s unprecedented demand for information about SKAdNetwork, Apple’s framework for attribution, and how it will work. Marketers also want to know how attribution and post-install conversions will happen, and what MMPs will do to support this new world. 

We’re here to help. 

Singular was the first mobile measurement partner to announce SKAdNetwork support, and we just gave a massive webinar where 700 marketers got all the latest information on how their jobs are going to change in September, October, and November. If you didn’t see it, here’s how to get full access to the deck and video

We also have a Slack group for Mobile Attribution Privacy (MAP) Coalition where advertisers, ad networks, publishers, and more can have an open discussion about all the changes. We’d love to have you join and share your perspective, questions, and answers. You can join the Slack group here.


We’ve also had major news about Facebook and SKAdNetwork. Facebook has largely decided how it will be handling SKAdNetwork, and MMPs like Singular are a big part of it. Follow that link for the latest from on Facebook and SKAdNetwork.

And finally, we had a ton of great questions on IDFA, SKAdNetwork, MMPs, Singular, conversions, and attribution. We’re answering a lot of them right here.

iOS 14 & IDFA: Questions from the webinar

Question: IDFA percentages today

From Dzenis: “How much traffic out there really does have IDFA?”

Answer: About 70% of people using iOS in the U.S. have not turned on Limit Ad Tracking, and therefore are still measurable and targetable via the IDFA. On Android, fewer than 5% have turned the equivalent setting (Ads Personalization) off, so more than 95% on Android are still measurable and trackable.

More details, and data on more countries, here:

Privacy checkup: Limit Ad Tracking up 216% on iOS, but down 85% on Android

Question: Advertisers plans for iOS 14

From Kamara: “What have your customers (advertisers) been saying? Are they planning to ask users for privacy permissions in their app? Any thinking about requiring tracking?”

Answer: Customers are still mapping the best options for their use-case. While some are looking into integrating a more elaborated consent flow, others would try to avoid it at all costs. In any case, that would probably not be enough. We work with our customers to support them and provide the tools to accommodate different situations and scenarios.

More details here:

IDFA iOS 14 FAQ: What’s true, what’s fake, and what’s total fantasy

Question: Impact on programmatic

From Stan: “What will be the implications on programmatic mobile ads and measurement/attribution? Will the IDFA become virtually invisible?”

Answer: The availability of IDFAs will be very minimal … most industry experts assume something like 0-20%. This means DSPs would have to adapt since today, they usually rely on their knowledge of specific devices (by IDFA) to place bids. They may move to a contextual model, but it remains to be seen if that’s an adequate method of estimating ad placement value.

At the same time, big publishers (for example, casual gaming publishers) might be more aggressive about asking for consent. If many do — and if they are successful —  it might create a market with a hybrid approach where those who incentivize their users to opt-in would make more money from advertising than those that do not.

Question: Postback data

From Jeevan: “What is the scope of the campaign in the install validation postback? Is it 100 campaigns per ad network? Or is it per ad networkid-advertised-app-id?

Answer: The campaign ID is absolutely in the control of the ad serving party and its meaning can be different for every combination of network, publisher, or advertiser. Within this breakdown, it’s still limited to 100 values.

More details here:

SKAdNetwork 101: What is it? What does it mean for you?

Question: Conversions data

From Jeevan: Is SKAdNetwork for install attribution and conversions as well?”

Answer: SKAdNetwork’s main usage is for install attribution, but it does allow advertisers to postpone the install postback and report a post-install conversion value when it’s finally sent. This can be used, for example, to encode conversion activities the user has performed after installing the app.

Question: Hyper casual games vs IAP games

From Wenfeng: “So hyper-casual games will have a big game, since they only need to compare the CPM for buying and CPM for selling ads. We shall buy hyper-casual games’ stocks if they go public; but for IAP games, they’re doomed. Any thoughts on this?”

Answer: We believe both hyper-casual and IAP-based games will face challenges in this new reality, but nothing really changes. Both will still work hard to achieve positive ROI and, eventually, the market will balance. And don’t forget, the success of hyper-casual games is tied to the success of IAP-based games: if IAP-based games stop advertising, that will hurt hyper-casual significantly.”

Hyper casual does have a simpler model, and in-app purchase games have a longer LTV curve. But a blended deterministic-probabilistic acquisition model that, while not as accurate as today, is still accurate enough to provide ad optimization power and predictive signals, will help both.

Question: Pop-ups allowed?

Goncalo: “Do you think pop-ups will be allowed to force users to enable the IDFAs?

Answer: Apple’s exact policy is not clear on that at the moment. We are still mapping and navigating the legal and policy implications to better understand that. But, a) it seems unlikely, and b) if all apps will work that way, user experience on iOS will be hurt.

As an example, see the following in Apple’s app review guidelines: “Apps must respect the user’s permission settings and not attempt to…force people to consent to unnecessary data access”. Is IDFA necessary for the app’s functions? Depends who you ask.

Question: All existing data dies?

Anonymous: “As users start upgrading their devices all this already existing data will be rendered useless is that right? The IDFA is unique for the device and not the AppStore ID?”

Answer: That’s correct. The IDFA is unique per device, so any IDFAs previously collected would degrade as time goes on. Additionally, Apple’s policy suggests that you are not allowed to cache IDFA values for later use.

Question: Facebook AEO and VO

Uriel: “Do you predict Facebook event-base (not custom audience based) optimization tools like LaL and AEO will also be hurt?”

Answer: Facebook has some options here. It’s not clear whether these would be against Apple’s policy or not, if collected via the Facebook SDK, for example.

What we do know: all other ad networks will have access to limited AEO-style post-install data now as well.

Update December 23: Facebook has now revealed its SKAdNetwork strategy and Singular CEO Gadi Eliashiv unpacked some of the implications. What we now know: AEO will be supported. Attribution windows, however, have been severely impacted, as you might expect. Get all the latest details here.

Question: Multi-touch attribution

Anonymous: “What do we see as the impact on MTA and other deterministic measurement that relies on an ID map? Will we see partial IDFA based on apps that were opted in?”

Answer: Data collected from IDFA opt-in users would likely not be generalizable to all your users: it will likely be too small a subset, and they’re also likely to be substantially different from the rest of your users anyway. 

Within SKAdNetwork, there is no concept of an impression, so multi-touch attribution is impossible. Singular still collects data from ad networks on impressions and clicks, so it’s likely that we will be able to show probabilistic data highlighting MTA trends.

Question: Re-installs and re-downloads

Anonymous: “Will you be able to see any returning vs new users through SKAdnetwork?”

Answer: Yes. Apple provides a “redownload” flag in SKAdNetwork postbacks. That would allow you to know if this is the first installation of the app by the user or a returning user.

Question: SKAdNetwork data vulnerable to fraud?

Christopher: “If the data will be passed to the advertiser before the MMP, is the data vulnerable to being manipulated?”

Answer: SKAdNetwork notifications are cryptographically signed with Apple’s public key, so they are mostly unforgeable. However, you still need to check them to ensure that the ad network is not returning spurious notifications. Careful verification will still be needed, which Singular will do. Other forms of verification are required as well for fraud prevention purposes, for example, you will have to make sure each notification is unique and was never used before.

Question: Different publishers?

Matt: “How do you distinguish between installs from different publishers?”

Answer: SKAdNetwork 2.0 includes a source-app-id (publisher id) field. Which will allow advertisers to identify different publishers.

More answers and more insights coming

It’s still early. It’s only a week after Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference. There’s going to be more to learn, possible changes to SKAdNetwork, and more information on how Singular is supporting our customers and helping them get through this massive change.

Keep checking our blog for updates, and please do join the Slack channel for Mobile Attribution Privacy (MAP).

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